A thoroughly mobilized Cherry Hill neighborhood was unable to prevail against a proposed mega-Wawa.
A marathon township planning board meeting ended early Tuesday with unanimous final approval for a $6 million combination gas station and food store on Haddonfield Road, despite nearly unanimous opposition from nearby residents.
The new Wawa will rise on the site of a closed Toyota dealership on the west side of the roadway, just south of Yale Avenue.
Homeowners on adjacent streets organized their neighbors, distributed petitions against the proposal and engaged a private consultant to assess the development's impact.
"I believe the neighbors like myself were disappointed but not surprised that the Planning Board okayed the proposal," said Sharon Appalucci, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years. "Even though we were allowed to voice our concerns about traffic safety, noise, lights and a 24-7 operation shoehorned into such a small area so close to our neighborhood, I don’t feel as though anyone listened."
Residents also vowed to lobby Camden County to improve Haddonfield Road.
"Modifications to the road must be made to ensure the safety and welfare of motorists and pedestrians alike," Maureen Romero, whose home will overlook the store's parking lot, said via email.
Romero notes that traffic engineer Joseph Fiocco, whom the neighborhood hired, found a number of traffic safety issues stemming from the lack of shoulders and turn lanes near Haddonfield and Yale.
In a statement, Cherry Hill Mayor Charles Cahn said, “The unanimous decision by the Planning Board found a balance between the concerns of the residents, the allowable use for the property and the proposal by the applicant.
"Separately, my administration is reviewing the neighborhood concerns raised throughout the public discussions to identify potential solutions,” Cahn added.